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Fibrous Sarcoma removal/complications-subcutaneous emphysema

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  • Fibrous Sarcoma removal/complications-subcutaneous emphysema

    My cat Cleo is 12 years old and for the last few years has had a lump (fibrous sarcoma) growing on the side of her neck. We decided not to have it removed as she was old and it was risky and also it was very expensive. However during the last few months it grew considerably and it started irritating her. She scratched it so much that it began to bleed. We took her to a different vets this time and they recommended that we had it removed. We asked them the price and this vets charged a lot less and he sounded confident he could do it. We went ahead with the operation. It was successful and Cleo began recovering well. However, 5 days after the op she was in a funny mood. Quiet and still. Then all of a sudden she started retching, then this weird noise came from her throat. It sounded like teeth grinding. We went over to her and noticed the shaved area around her neck had swollen alot. We rushed her to the vets and he thought she was having an anaphylactic shock. She was treated for this with anti-histamines and adrenaline. However the swelling didn't go down and we discovered the swelling was due to trapped air under her skin, a condition known as subcutaneous emphysema. We looked this condition up on the internet and there was no mention of this occuring from an allergic reaction. The main causes were post operative damage to the tracea, or food pipe. We discussed this with the vet and he agreed that this was a possibilty. He gave her sessions of oxygen, syringed some of the air out and also put her on anti-biotics. After about 5 days we didnt see any improvement in the swelling. We couldn't find any information on the internet about the time period of the air going down. However it's now been 10 days and we have started seeing a vast improvement. It still hasn't gone completely, but she's quite a bit smaller and she's moving around alot better and seems more happier than she has been. I thought I would give details of this experience as we couldn't find any info at all for this condition in animals. If this happens to anyone, don't worry (like I did) as subcutaneous emphysema, (as long as the leak is stopped) isn't a serious condition, it is just uncomfortable and unsightly. Also a sure sign on this condition is a crackling sound when the swelling is touched. This occurs as the air is moved around under the skin. Been a scary few weeks but shes on the mend now! Thankfully!! :D

  • #2
    I'm so happy that Cleo is doing better - WOW - this is a rare one that I have never heard of either.

    The one thing that bothers me about your post is that post surgically the vet did not send you home with antibiotics for her. There is always a risk of infection after surgery and I wonder if this may have contributed to her problem.

    Just a heads up - no matter what kind of surgery your animal has done ASK the vet for antibiotics (sometimes they forget I guess).


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice. Will remember that. Unfortunatly, since my last post, we've had a set back with Cleo. She started trying to be sick this morning but for some reason she cant sick up anything so she's been retching all day and its caused a lot of the air to get back in again. :( We took her back to the vets and she's going for an x-ray on Monday because we think there must still be something wrong with her throat as she can't get up what she needs to, and that some air can also get in. It's so upsetting as she was doing great! I will keep everyone posted on her condition.


      • #4
        Is there another vet nearby that you can take Cleo to? It sounds to me more like megaesophagus which is sometimes the result of the tube placed down their throat during surgery to keep them asleep.

        Good Luck to you and Cleo.


        • #5
          From this description it sounds like a tracheal tear that happened when the vet intubated her for surgery. The whole article costs $4.95 but it might be worth both your whiles to purchase it online and then TAKE HER TO A DIFFERENT VET.

          TREATMENT OF TRACHEAL TEAR ($4.95 USD, 25 KB) 100%
          Tufts Animal Expo Conference Proceedings, September 1, 2001

          Intubation-associated tracheal tear in cats is not a new disease but it has not been reported in the literature until the last 2 years. While doing my residency at Tufts University it was noted that cats were presenting for subcutaneous emphysema or respiratory problems with a presumptive diagnosis of tracheal rupture. The clinic admitted cases that were treated both medically and surgically for this disease. An AVMA Liability Trust newsletter reported on malpractice claims of subcutaneous emphysema and issued a warning regarding the proper technique for intubation and proper evaluation and monitoring for cats that develop subcutaneous emphysema. In reviewing the literature only one case report describing this condition was found.


          • #6
            Xena, once you read just that portion of what Petsalive posted, it certainly gives rise to doubt as to what the other vet is claiming. Also remember that vet was charging much less for the operation---and I have to ask why?? And why no antibiotics???

            I would strongly suggest you get photocopies of the records from the present vet and get your cat to another vet right away before this gets any worse. Imagine what this cat is going through and it can't make them feel very good. Good luck and I hope this works out for your cat.
            Cats, as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness caused by the fact that in ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods.
            P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)


            • #7
              Thanks Petsalive for that info. There aren't a lot of vets in my area, and all the other ones she's ever been to have been horrible. Money grabbing businesses that dont care about the animals, just that they're getting their money. Although there have been complications at the one we're using I dont believe it's due to malpractice plus all the staff are very nice people and are very concerned with her well being. However, I would like a second opinion and luckily we've got one today. Cleo went for an x-ray of her throat area and the vets had asked a 2 specialists to come and and observe and give their opinions. We are going to collect her anytime now so hopefully we'll know exactly whats gone wrong. Ragdoll Mom, your right that she's having an awful time. She's had a nightmare few weeks. Hopefully we'll have more luck now she's been seen by more qualified vets. Ill keep you all up to date with any developments!


              • #8
                Well Cleo had the x-ray and it showed that she does have a tear in her tracea. We have discussed the opinions (surgury or medical) and have opted for medical as this is less stressful for Cleo. We are giving her anti sickness injections to stop her from retching which will help the tear to heal. Also she is having weekly injections of a cartalidge strengthener to help rebuild the damaged area. She eating feriously at the monent which is out of character and we dont really know why that is as the x-rays showed that her food pipe and digestive system is normal. She is having plenty of rest as well. One thing that does worry me is when she eats feriously, we can hear a bit of a raspy noise coming from her throat, so we are just giving her small portions to try and restrict this. On the plus side, when this air leakage originally happened it was very sudden and VERY fast. This time the air only entered when she was retching so if we can stop that for long enough, hopefully the tear will mend itself as it had been doing before she retched. All of this has made it clear that it would have been a much bettr idea to have had the lump removed a lot earlier when it was just tiny, and then it wouldn't have been such a major operation :( At least I know now for the future.


                • #9
                  Unbelieveable. Petsalive hits it again.
                  Really, Sara, you SHOULD just take a test and be a veterinarian, you are almost never wrong on these issues. Amazing!!

                  Anyway, Xena, that is so terrible about them tearing the trachea during surgery. This poor little creature! Please keep us updated!


                  • #10
                    Well Cleo is doing ok, not great though. She had a retching session yesterday but we don't understand why. However she didn't get any bigger and after a little while it subsided. We are really confused what to do now because I don't want to put her through another operation, plus even if they fixed the tear, if she retched again it could tear it back open. However, the anti-sickness medication obviously doesn't stop her from needed to be sick. It's so confusing! She has been fine today though, and is happy enough, eating, drinking, sleeping, pummeling jumpers (awww!!) and washing herself as always. We're giving her loads of love and attention and fingers crossed, she'll be better soon. Yeah, Petsalive, well done on the diagnosis! Im surprised you're not a vet!!


                    • #11
                      Try feeding Cleo only ONE TSP of food at a time and always in a dish that is raised 3-4" off the floor. When she is finished wait two hours and then give her more. I hope they told you only to give her canned food and she really needs a good quality one like Iams or Nutro to help her heal.

                      What have you been feeding her and how much at a time?


                      • #12
                        Well we've been keeping away from any crunchies, as they are too rough for her throat I think. We got some liquid food from the vets which they recommended for post operation or post sickness. She's not keen on it but will eat it eventually. Also as she never drinks water, we've been lightly bioling some chicken pieces and cutting 1 or 2 up very finely and serving that with the juice which she eats all of so thats a good way of getting water into her. How oftern - usually twice or 3 times, but are keeping the portions relativley small. Do you think that sounds ok?


                        • #13
                          It doesn't sound ok that you are giving her 'pieces' of food - they will all further irritate the tear.

                          If you can go out and buy tins of SHEBA cat food - ALL cats love it and it has a high moisture content. Start with any of the fish flavors (Blue Fin Tuna, Sole) and if she eats them give her the equivalent of two tins a day over 6 meals (1/2 of a tin each meal). Don't worry about the water.


                          • #14
                            Thanks, thats good advice. Well Cleo is doing quite well now. Im not being too optimistic because she was doing well twice before, and then it all went pear shaped! So now, she's eating normally, the air is slowly going down, she was last sick a week ago but she didn't blow up any further, and the retching didn't last very long thanks to the new anit-sickness injections we've got now. The fact that she didn't blow up anymore hopefully suggests that the tear is healing over. She's been having weekly injections of a cartlidge strenghtener which she had the 3rd one today. One more, then she has them monthly. Im sure she will be sick again sometime soon, as shes always been like that (hairballs, etc as she's long haired), but with some luck, she'll continue getting smaller and then soon she'll be back to normal! Thanks for all the advice people have given me. Hopefully Ill figure out how to post a picture and let you see what Cleo looks like!


                            • #15

                              I am so happy I found this message as up until now I thought my cat was unique and its been an emotional experience!

                              I have had my cat Digger, a rescue brown Burmese with diabetes for 6 weeks now and with diet and exercise I managed to control the diabetes so he doesnt need insulin. However, on Thursday last week he started to retch and wheeze and this carried on all weekend and got worse so on Monday our vet took him in to look at his wind pipe and throat with a camera. He was unable to get the tube down because of the swelling and Digger stoped breathing so they fitted a tracheotomy. This blocked 2 days later and he had to be tibed again and so they removed the trach and did not stitch the hole up as they said it would heal by itself.

                              He was doing well and ready to come home but within 10 hours of the op he looked like a balloon because air had leaked from the trachea and into his skin. They knocked him out again and stitched up the hole but now they are telling me his breathing is very bad and he needs to stay in an oxygen tent and in the hosiptal for several more days.

                              They are basically saying that he is still very ill and they dont know if he can pull through which is very hard to hear as he was so well on Wednesday!! Im completely confused as to how this happened and now as to his prognosis - am I going to lose him???

                              We are visiting every night and praying for him to come home but we seem to be having so many problems! At least in finding this message I realise that we are not alone! Our vet has said that this was all caused by laryngitis and tonsillitis which is worrying as controlling this will be difficult.

                              Claire & Digger